Soccer star Alex Morgan is headed to France for six months starting in January with the option to stay longer. The Orlando Pride striker announced on Tuesday that she agreed to the initial half-year loan to Olympique Lyonnais, arguably the best women’s club on the planet, but that it took her several weeks to make the choice.
— Olympique Lyonnais (@OL) December 20, 2016
“This was not an easy decision for me,” the 27-year-old wrote in an essay published to the Players’ Tribune.
While she will miss her husband Servando Carrasco, who plays on Orlando’s men’s squad, the positives ended up outweighing the negatives for her.
“As much as I love living and training and playing in Orlando, I’ve decided to take a huge risk and bet on myself,” she said, noting that her stint abroad won’t affect her availability to play with the U.S. Women’s National Team in any upcoming fixtures.
She said to continue pushing soccer forward in the United States, she first needed to challenge herself.
“I hope that this change will help push my game to another level. I hope that training with these incredible athletes each day, and learning a unique style of play, is exactly what I need, and that it will help me find that next gear,” she wrote. “Importantly, I will also be immersed in a soccer culture that I believe is precisely what I need at this point in my career. It has always been a dream of mine to ‘live’ soccer and to compete in the Champions League.”
Lyon, as the club is commonly called, won every title it competed for last season, including the Champions League, French League and the French Cup.
She’ll join top world players Dzsenifer Marozsán of Germany, Ada Hegerberg of Norway, Saki Kumagai of Japan, Caroline Seger of Sweden and several French stars, who already play for Lyon.
“The players on the team are among the best footballers in the world,” Morgan wrote. “Everyone on OL plays for their respective national teams, so the training there is just phenomenal. You have to bring your best every day if you want to earn a starting spot. . . . I want to be the best player in the United States … the best player in the world.”
Morgan won’t be the first USWNT star to play on the world-renowned team. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe played for the club in 2013 and 2014, appearing in two Champions League tournaments.